Wednesday, June 18, 2008

In front of our lives

The future presses upon us. What we imagine to be the
consequences of a past event may equally be the ripple
back from an event in the future. There is a reverse echo
there that we can’t quite hear.

"It would seem as though coming events, gathered in
front of our lives, bear with crushing weight upon the
uncertain and deceptive dike of the present, which is no
longer able to contain them. They ooze through, they
seek a crevice by which to reach us."—Maeterlinck

Or, Maeterlinck imagines, it might be a giant force
outside the walls of our prison. But all that reaches us is
a "vague disquiet, an indistinct murmur that is
sometimes translated to us by a half-awakened gaoler
who, like ourselves, is a lifelong captive."

Only in dreams can we remember the future, and then

A word from Freud, though, suggesting that the giant
force is not the future but the past: "It would seem as
though each one of us has been through a phase of
individual development corresponding to that animistic
stage in primitive men, that none of us has traversed it
without certain traces of it which can be reactivated,
and that everything which now strikes us as 'uncanny'
fulfils the condition of stirring those vestiges of
animistic mental activity within us and bringing them
to expression."

Ouspensky maintained that art was the language of the
future, for it "anticipates a psychic evolution and divines
its future forms." Take your pick.

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